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School board members discuss classroom flag displays

Whitehall-Coplay School Board held its committee meetings March 11 with the main topic of discussion regarding what teachers are allowed to display in their classrooms.

This discussion started when a teacher within the district was asked to remove an LGBTQIA+ flag from the classroom after a parent saw it hanging during an open house and was displeased.

Board member Fady Salloum suggested only an American, state or country flag be displayed in classrooms.

“It’s something that has a national backing to it,” he said in support of his suggestion. “It’s not a theory or a club.”

Board member Nichole Hartman disagreed with that idea, raising concerns that hanging only certain things could open a big can of worms for parents.

“Who’s to say the flag you have in history class representing another country means it’s because you’re teaching about that country or that it means you’re supporting that country?” Hartman asked.

“You’re assuming someone with a gay pride flag in [his or her] classroom or a different type of flag that is other than a country, you’re assuming they support that and that’s what they stand for,” she continued. “Then who’s to assume if someone has a different country flag hanging in [his or her] classroom that they don’t stand for that?”

Some board members said limiting which flags can be hung in a classroom could lead to teachers hanging posters that represent things parents could disagree with.

“If it’s a poster, are we OK? What if a teacher has a pin on or a T-shirt?” board member Keri Kromer asked. “Where are we drawing the line?”

“We’re not touching clothing,” board member George Makhoul said. “This is about something hanging in a room. I ask that we try to keep this around a banner or a flag, but let’s not go somewhere that’s not part of the policy.”

No decision was made at the meeting, but the discussion will continue at the next board meeting in April. The board ultimately agreed to turn to a policy attorney for guidance.